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Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Malcolm Marshall's lethal bouncer ends Andy Lloyd's career

England captain on this day - David Gower
©Reuters

June 14, 1984 - Malcolm Marshall had a peculiar action. He ran to the crease like a hot knife through butter, with feet like those of a dancer and cannoned the ball with an exceptionally quick arm speed.

If you ask batsmen of his generation, the bowler they found the toughest to face, 8 out of 10 would respond with Malcolm Marshall. He was lethal not as much for his pace, his command over inswing and outswing or the ability to outsmart the batsmen regularly.

The most effective and formidable weapon in his artillery was his vicious bouncer. Now, Marshall was not the tallest of the famed West Indian pacers. He stood at 1.8 metres as compared to the likes of Joel Garner or Curtly Ambrose who were in excess of 2 metres.

Counter intuitively, it was his height or the lack of it, which made his bouncer all the more effective. Due to the fact that the ball came from a relatively lower height, it skidded through to the batsman and before you realised, bang, the ball had arrived.

Andy Lloyd was one such talented Englishman who had to bear the brunt of Malcolm Marshall's vicious bouncer. The batsman had made his international debut on the back of excellent performances in First-Class cricket where he scored 1,673 runs at 45.21 in the 1983 County season.

His ODI debut was not the greatest as he contributed only 15. In his 2nd ODI, Lloyd top scored for England with 49. This is the same match in which Viv Richards smashed 189 not out - the highest individual ODI score at that time.

A 37 in the 3rd ODI took Lloyd's tally in the series to 101 at 33.67. The numbers may not seem excellent, but he was the only England batsman to touch 100 runs in the series.

 

 

When the Test matches arrived, he was the preferred choice for the opener's slot. It only helped that the first Test was scheduled at his home ground at Edgbaston as Lloyd received his Test cap.

Lloyd opened the innings with Graeme Fowler and was up against the deadly duo of Malcolm Marshall and Joel Garner. Marshall wasn't easy to play - he never was - but it was Garner who was the more difficult of the two. The tall pacer dismissed Fowler as the opener nicked to Jeff Dujon for a duck and then clean bowled Derek Randall.

With the score at 5/2, David Gower joined Lloyd. Batting at 10 from 16 deliveries, Lloyd faced a brute of a delivery from Marshall. The batsman both ducked and tried to sway out of the way but he ended up ducking into (not really a) bouncer as it struck him on the right side of the temple.

"Before the ball that hit me, I had already faced a few short deliveries from Garner and Marshall. But this ball just flew at me and caught me completely unawares. I thought it was going to go over my left shoulder. Instead it hit me flush on the temple behind my right eye. The time I knew there was a problem was when I tried reading the advertising signboards fencing the ground," Lloyd recalls the delivery which ended his international career prematurely.

Although Lloyd was wearing a helmet and there was a temple guard to protect him, the guard was nowhere strong enough to actually guard the batsman form Marshall's vicious bouncer. Lloyd was back on his feet after a few moments but physio Bernard Thomas decided to take him off the field.

As the Warwickshire player walked off, there was a huge round of applause. Little did he, or anyone else, know at that point that this would be the first and the only Test innings of Lloyd. It was later discovered that Lloyd had lost 35% of central vision in his right eye due to the bouncer's impact.

He went on to play many more First-Class matches for Warwickshire and finally bid goodbye to First-Class and List A cricket in 1992, but Lloyd was never the same batsman after the fateful day.

There was much debate, after the incident, about the use of bouncers by fast bowlers and it also led to better head protection for batsmen, with innovative helmets and guards coming into use.

 

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